Nathan Kalish “Great Big Motel Bed in the Sky”

JTM Music, 2022

Nashville-based journeyman musician delivers album reflecting on loss and life.

Artwork for Nathan Kalish album "Great Big Motel Bed In The Sky"Rooted in the heart and soul of America, this album reflects on key life themes, giving it universal appeal. Kalish’s music is described as “inspired by psychedelic folk-rock and cosmic country rock from across America and beyond”.  This album, his eleventh, follows on from “Songs For Nobody” which received broad critical acclaim following its release in 2020.

Born in the States, to missionary parents, Kalish lived in many locations across Europe and the USA through most of his formative years.  His transient restless lifestyle continued into adulthood, developing his musical skills in honky-tonks and bars across the States for nearly a decade, often playing over two hundred live shows in a year.

This is an assured body of work.  Of the ten tracks on the album, several stand out, but all show the same high-quality musicianship picked up down the years on those journeys down the road. Self-produced by Kalish, his multi-instrumental talents are evident on the multi layered tracks, with only ‘Divinity in Lonesome’ taking a more pared back approach.

As an album opener, the honky-tonk country of ‘Rich Man’s World’ sets the scene for what comes after.  Reflecting on the have and have nots, there is a timeless wisdom to it.  Kalish’s voice, a gritty but warm country drawl, reinforces the sense of wise words being spoken.  The dominant pedal steel harks back to the roots of country music, and then updates it.

The single, and third track, from the album ‘Past The Everglades’ reflects on the long struggle to get what, or where, you want to be, only to find in the end, it is not what you thought it would be.  Maybe we have all been there at some time.  It is easy here, and throughout the album, to find themes to personally relate to.

There are plenty of songs that will stay with you long after several listens, especially ‘Rich Man’s World’, the reflective ‘Ballad Of Soules’, love lost anthem ‘Divinity In Lonesome’ and foot-tapping closing track ‘Motel Bed In The Sky’ (Kalish’s shorthand for where we will all end up).  The insights contained in the latter shows Kalish has spent far too many nights in the welcoming, or otherwise, motels along the many American highways and byways of the travelling independent musician, earning a living on the road.

It is an album to enjoy for the quality of the musicianship, and with the range of moods to be found here, you will always be able to find something that suits whatever vibe you are in.  The strong foundations are Kalish’s honest reflections of life and its struggles.  Listen in and savour the lessons learnt on his travels without having to leave the comfort of your own armchair.  A perpetually wandering soul, keeping country music alive, strong… and cosmic.

7/10
7/10

About Ian Kennedy 5 Articles
Live music, long walks, country pubs. What would life be worth without them?

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